Kids can’t wait to get back on the soccer field

COVID-19 has been hard on everyone, but the pandemic has been especially hard for the Castañeda family of seven. Ten-year-old twins Bryan and Ryan Castañeda have been attending one of Think Together’s in-person learning hubs in Baldwin Park while their school continues to offer instruction virtually.

Think Together’s in-person hubs give students a place with stable internet and staff to support them during their regular school day. Students who participate are likely to be experiencing homeless, in foster care or are the children of essential workers. While it is nice to have some interaction with teachers and friends within their in-person cohort, there is one thing that the boys really miss: soccer.

Los Angeles County has laid down strict rules for sports and other events to help slow the spread of COVID-19. The twins were able to play one game in November before things began to lock down again. When asked what it felt like to be back on the field, Ryan said, “It felt like I was in heaven because I haven’t played in a while.”

Soccer and other team sports are not only a great way to exercise and stay healthy, but also build great social and emotional skills like teamwork, communication, strategy, and confidence.

In Think Together’s in-person hubs, students can still practice their skills using the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s adapted curriculum, which was launched ahead of the fall 2020 season. This adapted curriculum allows Soccer for Success program operators across the country to run the program across a variety of settings – from pre-recorded sessions to live virtual sessions to in-person socially-distanced sessions. Throughout the 12-week season, coach-mentors use these sessions to help participants practice their talents, with lessons on ball control, passing, defending, and more.

The Castañeda twins are doing all that they can to keep their skills sharp for when they can get back on the soccer field. When sports begin again, both of them are looking forward to continuing to participate in the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s Soccer for Success program in addition to the other soccer team they play on outside of school.

Ryan and Bryan hope to become professional soccer players for the Los Angeles Football Club and Chivas respectively. Until then, Think Together and the U.S. Soccer Foundation will keep them learning, healthy, and thriving.